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Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced, the second part of the popular and comprehensive series, updated for CS5, follows internationally renowned Photoshop guru Deke McClelland as he dives into the workings of Photoshop. He explores such digital-age wonders as the Levels and Curves commands, edge-detection filters, advanced compositing techniques, vector-based text, the Liquify filter, and Camera Raw. Deke also teaches tried-and-true methods for sharpening details, smoothing over wrinkles and imperfections, and enhancing colors without harming the original image. Exercise files accompany the course.
Recommended prerequisite: Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
In this exercise, I'm going to show you the best way to go about masking this Lens Blur effect. So we cover up just the most egregious regions of noise in that out-of-focus background. I've gone ahead and saved my progress so far as My blurry butterfly.psd, found inside the 16_smooth folder. Now currently, the lens blur layer covers up the entire image. I don't want that by a mile because after all, most of the image is just fine the way it is. It's just this area in front of the butterfly's face and down here on the lower left corner. Those are the only areas that suffer from these random noise particles, everywhere else looks pretty good.
So mostly, I don't want this lens blur layer. That means, instead of adding a White layer mask, which would reveal everything, and you get a White layer mask by clicking on the Add layer mask icon, down here at the bottom of the panel. Rather, I want to add a Black layer mask that hides everything, and you get such a mask by Alt+Clicking or Option+ Clicking on that layer mask icon. So, that's what I just did. Now I have a new Black layer mask, like so. I'm going to go ahead and zoom in on my image a little bit here, so that I can see the area in front of the bug's face.
And notice that I've once again revealed the noise. I'm going to grab my Brush tool, which I can get by pressing the B key. And you want to be working with a very soft brush. So just to confirm, I'm going to right- click inside of my Image window and check that the Hardness value is 0%, which it is. If it isn't for you, go ahead and reduce it to 0%. Currently my Size is set to 90 pixels. You know, I can vary that on the fly using the Bracket keys, so I'm not too concerned about that right now. Make sure that your foreground color is white, which it should be by default but if it's not, just present the D key for Default Colors and if that still doesn't work, press the X key.
And then, we're just going to paint in that Lens Blur, like so. And so, I'm just going to paint-in in front of the creature's face and paint little areas at a time is what I recommend to you. Because if you make a big mistake, for example let's say I'm sitting here painting, next to the bug's eye and also and I paint across his face. Why I'm going to have to undo my modification most likely, that's the tact I'm going to take anyway as opposed to painting its face back in using black, that's also an option.
But if you want to reserve the right to undo and press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac, you don't want to undo this huge brushstroke, that's all over the place. You just want to undo a little bit at a time. So just paint a little bit at a time is the trick. Anyway, I'm going to go ahead and paint into some of these regions here and there. And you can always change your mind, if you paint too far, you can always go back and paint with black, of course. I'm going to zoom out and increase the size of my brush by pressing the Right Bracket (]) key a few times, paint in this region as well. So I'm painting over anywhere, where there just is no detail going on, whatsoever.
And I want to get rid of the noise. Now that means, I am penalizing this leg back here quite a bit, just sending it into the deep unfocused zone. That works pretty well for me, but if you feel like you want to bring it back a little, what you can do if you like, we'll see how well this works. You could go ahead and reduce the size of you're Brush by pressing Left Bracket ([) key several times, then press the X key, so you're painting with black.] I'll click at this location, Shift+ Click like so, Shift+Click here, so I'm just painting up the bug's leg essentially with a bunch of Shift+Clicks, in order to sort of reinstate the focus of that leg just a little bit.
And I'm painting a few more brushstrokes incidentally as I'm talking to you here. I'm sure I love that effect though, bringing the leg back that way. So, you know, it's up to you. You may think it works out really well, I don't. And so what I'm going to do instead is I'm going to press the X key to switch back to White again, increase the size of my brush and let's try this. I'll change the Opacity value from a 100 % to 50% by pressing the 5 key and then, I'll paint back over the leg. So we're kind of splitting the difference at this point. All right, so that looks pretty good, where the leg and the area in front of the face is concerned and all that garbage.
Let's now go down here to the lower region of the bug, and I'm going to zoom out a little bit. And this time, I'm going to work with the Gradient tool. So I'll select the Gradient tool, which I can also get by pressing the G key, and the Gradient tool allows you to draw Gradients, that is color fountains, and it's extremely useful when working with things like layer masks. By default, it's set up to create a gradient between the foreground and background color, it's currently white to black. I do want white to remain my foreground color, but I want it to Fade to Transparency because otherwise, I'll fill in this region that I've already painted which I'm indicating using this little finger cursor here by pointing to this region inside the layer mask Thumbnail.
I don't want to cover that little goopy area that I just painted there with black, which is what would happen if I just drew a gradient now. So instead, I'm going to switch from Foreground to Background which is my current setting, there it is, to instead Foreground to Transparent. So it's the next guy over, you've got a keyboard shortcut by the way for this. And those of you who like keyboard shortcuts, you may think this is really great, those of you who don't like keyboard shortcuts, you're going to hate this. But anyway, you can press the Comma (,) key to move backwards through your sequence of gradients and you can press the Period (.) key to move forward.
So if you had Foreground to Background selected originally, then pressing the Period key would move you to Foreground to Transparent. Anyway, that's the way it works. Comma and Period keys of course, right next to each other on the keyboard. I'm going to drag, like so. So from this point, right about there to well into the wing as you can see, and I'm not terribly concerned about covering up some details in the wing, that's okay. So I'll drag like this and that goes ahead and fills that region of the layer mask with the gradient, so the corner is filled.
And if you want to see what it looks like, go ahead and Alt+Click or Option+Click on the layer mask thumbnail, there's your gradient. It's revealing the Lens Blur, down here in the lower left region of the composition. Meanwhile, here is what my mask looks like in front of the bug's face. So nothing to write home about, certainly not a beautiful piece of artwork or anything like that, but seems to be functional. All right, so I'm going to switch back to my RGB composite image by clicking on the thumbnail right there. And then, just to see how we have done, let's go and zoom out a click here. So we can see that yes indeed, I have covered up those areas of noise.
Now I couldn't really see them that well. Actually, I have to admit, I was kind of going on memory because I've got my high pass layer, which is the sharpening catalyst there, I've got it turned off. So let's go ahead and turn it back on. And as soon as I do, lo and behold, I'm somehow bringing the noise back. How in a world am I doing that, there's noise in front of the bug's face. Even though I completely painted it away using Lens Blur, I mean we wiped that noise out, there is no way that the noise is going to survive a 30 pixel radius, applied with a Lens Blur Filter.
Meanwhile, down here we've got noise too. So somehow it seems to have survived. Well, the reason it survived is because it's still resides inside of that high pass layer. Recall that we went ahead and merged a bunch of layers before we added Lens Blur in order to create high pass. So the high pass layer does not reflect the contents of the Lens Blur. What in the world do we do, do we have to regenerate a new high pass layer which is what you might think, or is there another way to work? The answer is, there is another way to work and I'm going to show you what that is in the next exercise.
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